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The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus

by Gary R. Habermas

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This is an accessible, comprehensive, and persuasive resource providing detailed evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. It also demonstrates how to share the material clearly, honestly, and definitively.

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I am not a fan of much popular apologetics -- especially on the resurrection. But when I saw that this book was 384 pages long, I thought it was perhaps an exception and would cover the issue in more detail than others. I was wrong. So why do I still rank this book so high? Because it effectively does what it sets out to do.

This book effectively equips Christians to witness to their friends, neighbors, and families using the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. Habermas and Licona begin with a discussion about the importance of the resurrection of Jesus to Christianity. Though this seems obvious, the discussion is helpful because it wisely recommends focusing on the resurrection without getting bogged down in, presumably, issues such as inerrancy and a complete harmonization of the resurrection narratives. This is a common failing of Christians trying to share their faith. The authors' emphasis on keeping the eye on the ball extends throughout the book.

After the opening chapter, the book turns to the core of the issue, the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. The strength of this section is that it distills down, accurately, a high level of scholarship on the issue. Habermas and Licona present five "minimal facts." That is, they focus on five historical facts that are accepted by most scholars:

1) Jesus' death by crucifixion;
2) Jesus' disciples believed that he rose and appeared to them;
3) Paul, a persecutor of the church, has suddenly changed to faith in Jesus;
4) James, skeptical of Jesus during his ministry, was suddenly changed to faith in Jesus; and,
5) The tomb of Jesus was empty.

No. 4 is perhaps more disputed than Habermas and Licona discuss (and by far the least important of the five), but the rest of the discussion accurately represents the state of historical scholarship. Although their discussion will not supplant the more probing discussions of N.T. Wright or William L. Craig, it will equip the reader to accurately present to their friends, neighbors, and family the persuasive historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. They fit their "minimal facts" together effectively to present a strong case for the resurrection of Jesus.

Most of the rest of the book deals with various objections to the resurrection. This includes the usual suspects, such as the hallucination theory or the forgotten grave site. But it also includes others that scholars tend to ignore but which actually pop up in real conversation, such as whether Jesus could have been an alien (don't laugh, I've heard that one) and how do we know that even if there was a resurrection that God had anything to do with it. Their response effectively focuses on the context of Jesus' ministry and claims that he made about himself.

There are a few sections that appear out of place, such as the discussion of near death experiences and even the section about the existence of God. But the book closes with its strength; which is a helpful discussion about how to take the knowledge conveyed and use it to convince others that Jesus is resurrected from the dead.

Christians wishing to share effectively the core of their faith with those they care about will find this book very helpful. And for that reason, I recommend it. ( )
1 vote Layman | Aug 15, 2006 |
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This is an accessible, comprehensive, and persuasive resource providing detailed evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. It also demonstrates how to share the material clearly, honestly, and definitively.

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